Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Carole Oliphant Member Services Officer
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS (00.01.04)
To receive any apologies for absence and notices of appointment of substitute Members (if any).
Apologies were received from Cllr N A Way
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST UNDER THE CODE OF CONDUCT (00.01.13)
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest, including the type of interest, and reason for that interest, either at this stage of the meeting or as soon as they become aware of that interest.
No declarations were made.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME (00.01.24)
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
There were no members of the public present.
MEMBER FORUM (00.01.43)
An opportunity for non-Cabinet Members to raise issues.
There were no issues raised under this item.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 8th October 2018.
The Committee is reminded that only those members of the Committee present at the previous meeting should vote and, in doing so, should be influenced only by seeking to ensure that the minutes are an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8th October 2018 were approved as a correct record and SIGNED by the Chairman.
To consider any decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting that have been called-in.
The Chairman informed the Committee that Cllrs: Mrs J Roach, Cllr D J Knowles, Cllr F W Letch, Cllr R M Deed and Cllr R Wright had called in two decisions made by the Cabinet at its meeting on 25th October 2018 (with regard to the Medium Term Financial Plan and the Modernisation of Council Homes 2018-2023) for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.
a) Medium Term Financial Plan
· This report is listed as having been 'noted’, the proposals in paragraph 8.2 of the report be endorsed'. Paragraph 8.2 in the report contains possible actions the Council could take to remain solvent. There is little evidence to demonstrate how and why these might or could be adopted. Without clear objectives and an overall plan a satisfactory outcome is doubtful.
· An allocation of 11 million pounds for 75 affordable homes is an SPV project which appears to be funded by MDDC.
· On page 89, there is a further allocation of funds to the SPV for the Tiverton Roundhill site. Is MDDC funding the SPV or not?
The Chairman asked the lead member who had called in the decision for the reasons why she felt that a call in was appropriate.
The lead member explained that she had missed the member briefing and the Cabinet meeting and did not feel that the Medium Term Financial Plan or the allocation of funds to SPV had been sufficiently discussed.
The Deputy Chief Executive (S151) explained that two reports had been sent to Cabinet and a member briefing had been arranged which had detailed the funding arrangements for 3 Rivers Developments Ltd. He further explained that Full Council had been fully informed of the arrangements and that this had been approved. He reiterated that Council could borrow money at a low rate and this had been lent to 3 Rivers at the market rate which would see the Council realise a profit on the monies lent. The Council was not funding 3 Rivers Developments Ltd out of the General Fund. He explained he was happy to provide the member with further information if she required.
In answer to a question about the Deputy Chief Executive’s (S151) role as both Finance Director for the Council and a Director of 3 Rivers Developments Ltd he explained that Members had approved the Memorandum of Association which had confirmed the governance arrangements between the two entities.
Members present who had attended the briefing about 3 Rivers Developments Ltd stated that they were clear of the governance arrangements and that they had full confidence in the Council and the Deputy Chief Executive (S151).
The Chairman recommended and the Committee agreed that the discussion about the funding for 3 Rivers Developments Ltd was closed at that point and no recommendation or proposal was made to the Cabinet.
With regard to the Medium Term Financial Plan the lead member of the call in stated that she had concerns that she could not see a ... view the full minutes text for item 92.
CHAIRMANS ANNOUNCEMENTS (00.41.21)
To receive any announcements that the Chairman of Scrutiny Committee may wish to make.
The Chairman relayed responses he had received from the Member of Parliament about District Nurses and from the Leader, on behalf of the Cabinet, to the letter sent by the Scrutiny Committee about the decision to sell the Crediton Town Council offices to buyer 2 which had previously been circulated to Members.
BUSINESS RATES RETENTION SCHEME (00.42.59)
To receive a briefing from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) in relation to Mid Devon being a trial area for the retention of Business Rates.
The Committee received and NOTED a briefing from the Group Manager for Finance in relation to Mid Devon being a trial area for the retention of Business Rates.
She outlined the scheme which was introduced by Central Government and how it had evolved over time. She provided further clarification on:
· Authorities had to bid to be accepted on the scheme
· Changes in the scheme since 2014
· Council was in a pool with other authorities in Devon
· Planning commission for 100% renewable schemes
She further explained that the Devon bid for 2019/2020 was unlikely to be successful as the Government had already awarded the scheme to the Greater London Authorities and that the Council had budgeted for this.
In response to a question about where the money from Business Rates was being spent she explained that the monies were not ring fenced for particular projects but any additional funds from economic growth would be spent on economic development. By growth she meant by new businesses or existing businesses expanding.
In response to members questions she confirmed that business rates values were reassessed in 2017 and that businesses could ask for a re-evaluation at any time. She explained that many businesses in the district had received a grant to offset the increases in business rates and were likely to appeal when they were subjected to the full costs.
At a request from members the Deputy Chief Executive (s151) said he would provide details of the number of properties in Mid Devon who would be eligible for the small business discount.
SCRUTINY OFFICER UPDATE (01.07.19)
To receive a verbal report from the Scrutiny Officer on items he had been asked to look into.
The Committee received and NOTED a verbal report from the Scrutiny Officer who gave an update on the following:
· AD Report – He was following up on the list of incidents and he would send the details to all members
· Trim Trails – the tender for supply had been secured and the installation date was anticipated before year end
· Community Engagement – the Working Group’s final report was due to come before the Committee at the next meeting
Members are asked to consider any items within the Forward Plan that they may wish to bring forward for discussion at the next meeting.
The Committee received and NOTED the *Forward Plan.
It was requested that the Scrutiny Committee have insight into the following items within the Plan which were due to be presented to Cabinet:
· Greater Exeter Strategic Plan & Proposals (22 Nov 2018)
· Improvements to Tiverton Town Centre (03 Jan 2019)
· Policy Framework (07 Feb 2019)
· Homelessness Strategy (04 Apr 2019)
The Committee also requested that the titles of some of the items be changed to reflect the content of the reports to be considered. Examples were:
· Establishment of a Member Development Delivery Advisory Group – the Group felt that this was confusing with the Member Development Group being run by Member Services
· Statement of Community Involvement Review 2018 – the Group felt that this was not clear whether it was with regard to the local development scheme and linked to the local plan
· Statement of Community Involvement Review 2018 – post consultation – the Group felt that this did not distinguish between a planning and a public consultation and needed to be clarified
Note: *Forward Plan previously circulated and attached to the minutes.
IDENTIFICATION OF ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING (01.30.57)
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
Community Engagement Working Group Report
Cabinet Member for Finance
Member Development Update
Safeguarding Policy & Procedures
Note: - this item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on items raised.
The Committee identified the following items for consideration at future meetings:
· Consultations – a report was required of the plan on how public consultations were to be completed.
· Impact of Brexit on the authority and what preparations were being done for when the UK left the EU.
· Cullompton Train Station – A report on the current planning and proposals for the replacement of Cullompton train station.
With regard to the last item the Chief Executive explained that the Cabinet Member would have access to this information and that an update could be provided.